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Samantha L. Quigley American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2008 –Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is proud of its bond with the military, its chairman and chief executive officer said before last night’s opening show here.
“It’s a relationship that we at Ringling Brothers treasure,” Kenneth Feld said. “We salute the armed forces before every performance and right before we sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”
The circus began a relationship with the Fisher House Foundation eight years ago. The organization builds homes away from home for family members who want to stay near loved ones recovering at military or Veterans Affairs medical facilities across the country.
Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said honoring that relationship was perhaps the most important part of last night’s performance.
“I think the most important thing is that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has made recognition of the Fisher House a big deal to them,” Myers said. “Every night they recognize this relationship. I think it recognizes the importance of families to our troops.”
The circus took it a step further last night, proclaiming the Fisher House Foundation a “Lifetime Circus Celebrity.” The proclamation was presented to Myers and his wife, Mary Jo, who both sit on the Fisher House Foundation’s board of trustees, in the center ring just before the start of the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
The night was extra special for about 100 wounded servicemembers and their families or caregivers. Ringling Bros. presented them with free tickets to the show. The tickets were distributed to the Warrior Transition Brigade, Veterans Affairs and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md.
One of the recipients who attended the program with his wife and 2-year-old son said the gesture was good for morale.
“Whenever they’re able to do programs like this, for a lot of soldiers, it’s really something good,” said Army Spc. Tim Turpin, who works in medical logistics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. “It gets them away from the monotony of being at the hospital all the time and having to do the routines of everyday life.”
Fisher House Foundation is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a corporate supporter of the Defense Department program.